A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Shadowshaper Legacy is the third book in the Brooklyn-set Shadowshaper Cypher fantasy series with a Latina hero named Sierra. Like the rest of the series, there's regular swearing in English and Spanish (mostly "s--t" and "ass" and not "f--k") and some complex social themes to discuss -- though this time instead of tackling police brutality, Sierra and her diverse group of friends face off against some skinheads (whose views are not discussed in the story). Straight and LGBTQ couples kiss, with some innuendo, sneaking into rooms, and undressing. Some hairy moments in Shadowshaper Legacy include a threatening man purposely run over, fights with blades, a teen impaled in the shoulder and magically healed, a concert brawl with teeth knocked out and people trampled, and creepy magical beings attacking and causing injuries. Stories told of ancestors include more violence: a mother is shot and killed in front of her daughter, another mother tries and fails to kill her more magical daughter, and guards are maimed. Throughout this series finale, Sierra works to end a cycle of violence perpetrated by some of her ancestors' magic and embrace the magic that promotes artistic expression and healing.
What's the story?
In SHADOWSHAPER LEGACY, Sierra does not hold back when she and her fellow shadowshapers face off against the Bloodhaus, a group of skinheads with blood magic. She swoops in and strips the magic from their leader -- a move that creates a power vacuum and a serious shakeup to the magical Deck of Worlds that helps control their fate. Now she's more concerned about the Iron House, and who from the Bloodhaus will join them. Little does she know that they're recruiting more than skinheads to fill their ranks. They've gotten to Sierra's boyfriend, Anthony, in prison, and she's not sure she can forgive him for being a traitor.
Is it any good?
This magical finale, featuring the coolest pack of teens you wish you were friends with, excites with all the spirit fighting and creepy enemies, but is also somewhat confusing. Fighting off the Bloodhaus and then the fortified Iron House makes sense, but the Hierophants that pop up and their roles in the Deck of Worlds could have been explained better. One teen wakes up from a coma and just "knows things," another character looks creepy and spews river water, for whatever reason.
Despite the influx of skinheads into this story, this finale isn't as focused on social justice as the previous two books in the Shadowshaper Cypher. Shadowshaper Legacy focuses instead on the relationships of Daniel Jose Older's excellent characters, their love of family and desire to protect them, and their drive to end a cycle of violence. Hate doesn't win here, or even get any platform whatsoever because Sierra and her diverse shadowshapers are always thinking instead of the ones they love.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what Sierra learns about her family in Shadowshaper Legacy. Who does she admire? Why? Who holds all the power? What has it done to her?
What was Juan and Anthony's prison experience like? Why do they have trouble adjusting to home life?
Are Sierra's friends like yours or very different? If you grew up in the suburbs or country instead of a city, what's different? If you grew up in a less diverse community, how is your experience different?
- Author: Daniel Jose Older
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Arts and Dance, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Arthur A. Levine
- Publication date: January 7, 2020
- Number of pages: 432
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: January 21, 2020
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